The new exhibit at the Ohio Craft Museum gives visitors an opportunity to consider how traditional craft objects inspire contemporary work.

The new exhibit at the Ohio Craft Museum gives visitors an opportunity to consider how traditional craft objects inspire contemporary work.

"In Touch with the Spirit" features pieces created by seven contemporary black artists and traditional objects from the Southern University at New Orleans Collection of African Art.

"We have arranged the exhibit so that the traditional objects are located next to the contemporary art that demonstrates their influence, perhaps in the type of craft, the synergy of design or pattern," said Betty Talbott, museum director.

Charlotte Gordon, artistic director of the Southern Ohio Museum, selected more than 50 items from the New Orleans collection for the exhibit.

"She was working on her master's degree at the university and came across these wonderful traditional craft objects that were held in their archives," Talbott said. "She wanted to find a way for these objects to be seen by the public in the northern part of the country. We are so fortunate she asked us if we would be interested in displaying them."

Many of the traditional craft items have not been seen by the public, she said.

"These pieces we are showing out of context. They were not objects meant to hang on the wall," Talbott said. "They are items that had significance for the village, such as masks used in initiation ceremonies for women going from child to adulthood, or practical items, like spears used to hunt food or big ceramic bowls used to brew beer."

The contemporary pieces were curated by Bettye Stull, former curator of the King Arts Complex and a friend of the craft museum, Talbott said.

"It's phenomenal to see the contemporary pieces displayed with the traditional items," she said. "The title of our exhibit, 'In Touch with the Spirit,' really is appropriate, because you will feel the spirit of these pieces when you visit.

"People should bring their children and talk about the history and tradition of what they are seeing," Talbott said.

The featured contemporary artists and their work include ceramist David MacDonald, who uses traditional patterns to inspire the designs of his large vessels and platters; clothing by Barbara Nicholson of Columbus; mixed-media forms by Willis "Bing" Davis of Dayton; and art quilts created by Carolyn Mazloomi of West Chester.

"In Touch with the Spirit" runs through March 23 at the museum, 1665 W. Fifth Ave.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will present a CraftView Afternoon on Feb. 23. Participants will work with artist Debbie Jackson to make a set of dangling spear earrings and a matching pendant, using polymer clay and a variety of texture techniques. The fee is $17, $15 for Ohio Design Craftsman members. Registration is required and can be made by calling 614-486-4402.

The Ohio Craft Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 4 p.m. weekends. Admission and parking are free.